Toyota to start building Highlander in U.S. six months early

Click above for high-res pics of the 2008 Toyota Highlander from our review

Up to this point, all Highlanders destined for the U.S. have been built in Japan. Toyota had planned to start building a new, redesigned Highlander in late 2009 at its plant in Tupelo, Mississippi, a factory that is still under construction, but the rapidly slumping SUV market prompted it to postpone the vehicle's redesign to 2010. Things change quickly in this business, however, and because its plant in Princeton, Indiana that builds the full-size Tundra is now sitting idle, Toyota has decided to use that capacity to start building the Highlander in the fall of 2009. The Tupelo plant, meanwhile, will instead start building the Prius here in the U.S. when its construction is completed in 2010. All this flip flopping of production can be done because of the flexible manufacturing that was built into each of Toyota's plants, and the positive end result is that its workers can keep working rather than sitting at home without a paycheck.

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd]

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